A lot has happened in the last day it is completely overwhelming. My feelings and emotions are swinging all over the place. I’ve obviously tried to take the time to sort out my thoughts and allow myself to feel. It’s now that I’m home that I am recognizing the plethora of blessings during this time. Everything will be okay. I don’t know where to start to tell the story but the story must be told.
My dad died.
That statement brings tears to my eyes yet is so completely surreal I can’t process it. My children know nothing about my dad. Sure I’ve blogged a few things over the years but I have never told them anything. I’ve brushed them off every time they try to ask about him. My husband has never met him. He saw my dad once but didn’t realize it till I told him later. In light of recent knowledge I view that scene so differently.
Background info: my father was abusive. I spent my childhood and early adolescence dreaming of leaving in some dramatic way. About three weeks before my 15th birthday my mom left. The next few years contained visits with him. Some were fun and some were pretty awkward. Tyson was old enough he didn’t legally have to participate. He usually did to be the social glue holding the party together.
The last time I ever saw or spoke to my dad was sometime in July of 1999. My dad called to ask if he could visit. I was anxious about it and called my brother and sister. Candi was unavailable and didn’t get the messages until it was too late. Tyson and Deanna agreed to be there for me. During that visit Tyson announced that he and Deanna were expecting their first baby. I know my dad heard. For whatever reason he changed the subject back to himself. I was hurt and angry.
For Christmas that year Tyson suggested we get a gift card for Dad. That way if anything happened and we didn’t give him the gift we could split the card among ourselves and buy ourselves a gift. We had never done that before. I think Tyson somehow knew we would never give the gift card. There was no phone call, no visit, no contact whatsoever from my dad. It hurt. It felt like he really did hate us. That I wasn’t just making it up. It hurt.
I have the best husband in the world. He sees things objectively. He has always told me that maybe my dad chose to step out of our lives as a way of reconciling the past. That he didn’t know how to fix things except to let us fly without him. I have always wanted to believe that was true. I’m starting to think that maybe that was the truth.
The guilt I feel is consuming. I have shut off that portion of my life so effectively I can’t remember much anymore. A Sister Missionary was serving in my ward from Tooele, where my dad was from. I told her I had family that lived there. I started to describe my uncle’s house that can be seen from the highway. It’s a unique house with a unique roof. For the life of me I could not think of his name. It came to me days later. I used to know the birth order of the ten kids in my dad’s family. Now I can barely remember any of their names.
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of the TV with my kids. We were trying to do anything to pass the time until Heath got home so we could go on our trip to Monterey. Heath was almost home and we were excited. Parker and I shared in some enthusiasm for the quick overnight trip. The ringing phone cut us off. I stood up to answer saying, “That’s probably your dad now!” No it wasn’t. My brother’s name was on the caller ID.
“I have bad news.”
“Why what’s going on?”
“I just found out that Dad passed away.”
He asked if I remembered a family friend we grew up with. He said that Gary had been working with our dad and that Dad hadn’t been to work on Monday or Tuesday. It was discovered that Dad had suffered a heart attack. He was 60 years old.
So many thoughts were rushing through my mind as the tears immediately fell. Tyson and I cried together more than we talked. It’s difficult to put into words how it feels to not have a relationship with a person for so many years but immediately feel the most enormous loss at the news of his death.
I have no idea where my brother and sister were in their minds before this happened, but I had been through several levels of forgiveness. Lately my worries over forgiveness and have I done enough centered around a face to face reconciliation. Was it necessary? Was I wrong for feeling that my life was better off without my father in it? Heath knew I was there to the point that he has been imagining how he could support me when I would “inevitably” announce I wanted to find my dad.
Now I can’t.
The moment is gone.
We went to Monterrey. I was pretty dazed last night and didn’t really cry much. I tried to make the best of the trip, pushing everything else to the side until I could deal with it. But I prayed. A lot. We arrived at the hotel around 9:00 pm. We put on the Lego Movie to calm the kids and hopefully get them to fall asleep. The movie ended sometime after 11:00 pm and nobody was tired.
I lied awake for I don’t even know how long. I prayed over and over that I could sleep and that the Lord could let my dad know that I loved him, that we loved him. Admittedly I prayed for restful sleep, meaning no dreams. My mind is so active that it’s hard to feel rested after sleeping. Part of me feared that my dad would appear to me in my dreams and for some reason I wasn’t ready to deal with that. I feel so bad about that now. My sister shared something with me today that makes me wish I hadn’t pushed that possibility away last night.
She said that after Tyson called her she felt Dad’s presence. She felt like he wanted her to know he was happy. Ed gave her a priesthood blessing that confirmed those feelings. Dad could see her and he was proud of her and he was sorry. Tyson was told the same thing in his blessing.
While we drove home today I set up an appointment to meet with my Bishop. It was a good visit. He told me to separate my skewed version of the past and stop projecting onto the future, but to be present in this moment. He told me that after all this time there is no way of knowing my dad’s heart. I have to find out the truth as much as I can by asking people who he was.
When I asked if that long period of time when we all decided to stay out of each other’s lives, if that was wrong. He said it is a loss. I am suffering a loss. That loss is immense. It’s amazing how everything is changed. At various times today I wanted to scream MY DAD DIED!!!!!! I don’t know how to deal with that information.
If I could just hug him and tell him how sorry I am for judging him so harshly … if only I had acted on my feelings and reached out to him … if only …
It kills me he died alone. So alone that no one knew what happened until days later. That is so unfair. No one deserves that. My grandpa died surrounded by his family in a hospital where even the medical staff mourned his passing. My dad was only 60 years old. It’s not fair.
The strangest part of all of this is this writing challenge. I never look at my Dashboard. I was trying to clear out links on my blogroll of people that don’t even blog anymore. That’s when I saw the writing challenge. Writing often is not my problem. But the well of ideas runs dry more often than it used to. I signed up.
My dad came to mind early on. I chose not to include the story that came to mind. Then the assignment about music came up. Easy peasy. I love music. Because I have blogged it before I chose not to say that I will always love that my dad instilled a love of music in me. That afternoon my brother called. My superstitions perked. Then this morning I read the assignment to write about a loss. The twist being to make it part one of a three part series.
Are you kidding me???? Where did that come from???? I tend to be superstitious but that was too much. I don’t believe it was a coincidence. I think my dad has been trying to let me know he is in a better place. The Lord loves him. I am grateful that the Lord has subtly stuck Post-it notes all over for me reminding me that things will be okay.
I found out today that my dad had named us kids as his beneficiaries. Both Heath and the Bishop said, “That says something.”